The AIM-traded firm said the appointment was part of its succession planning, with the intention that Southern take up the role of non-executive chairman in October next year, at which point Andrew Brode would become a non-executive director.
It said Southern, who would also become a member of its audit committee, would bring a “wealth of business and governance experience” from her previous executive career and her non-executive director roles.
She is currently a non-executive director and chair of the audit committees at Rentokil Initial, Ocado, NXP Semiconductor and easyJet, where she is also senior independent director.
Southern previously held non-executive director positions at DFS Furniture and Cineworld, where she chaired the respective audit committees, at Stagecoach where she chaired the remuneration committee, and at Gategroup where she chaired the nomination and compensation committee.
RWS said her executive career has included a number of senior finance, operations and marketing roles including at Porsche as group finance director from 1996, before she joined Virgin Atlantic in 2000 as chief financial officer with a broad management role, later becoming its chief commercial officer in 2010.
Following the appointment of Ian El-Mokadem as chief executive officer and the acquisition of SDL, the board said Southern’s appointment would further strengthen its experienced board, and provide a “high calibre” successor to Brode as chairman.
Brode had indicated his intention to step down from the chairman role from October 2023, at which time he would become a non-executive director.
RWS said Brode remained “fully committed” to supporting the board in driving the business forward, and intended to remain a “significant” shareholder.
“We are delighted to welcome Julie to the board of RWS following an extensive search process which identified her as the ideal candidate to enhance the board, and as Andrew’s successor,” said senior independent director Lara Boro.
“Her breadth of experience in executive and non-executive positions across a range of blue-chip businesses will be of great value to the board as the group capitalises on its unique platform to drive accelerated, sustainable organic growth, complemented by acquisitions.
“Julie’s appointment, ahead of Andrew stepping down to a non-executive director role, will enable a smooth transition of roles.”